[Problem] Black to play and win

Yesterday’s club evening produced two very interesting problems, they went way over my head at first, but the discussion was really interesting; we went over them both for a very long time. The first one was essentially black to play and win; in the second black could not live, but could force a pae [패; ko] for bik [빅; seki]. I still have to wrap my head around the latter, so I’ll post it some other time.

So the first one, while locally only problem for life, was essentially a problem that would decided the board. This came up in a teaching game I played with a 3d at the club, I had some additional advice from a 2d and a 3d (the latter one being “The Kibitzer“) through the game, which was really beneficial. Then this came up…

After white plays E2; Black to play and win.
Black to play and win

I could not for the life of me see how to make this work… Black looked very dead after White played the marked stone at E2. And essentially, while White is behind, if that entire Black group is dead, White would take the game, while if Black kept it alive, White would be seriously behind… But when I looked at it, E2 turned D3 into a false eye, and to make two eyes in the corner, I needed two moves; but if I played one, white would play the other… I was about to give up, but The Kibitzer would have non of it! He kept insisting there is a way for Black to live, and he needed to drop a few more hints before I managed to even grasp where the solution is. Even then, it took me a long time to find the right sequence of moves (all the while the dan players around me had smirks on their faces). But in the end I made the right moves… So… Black to play and win… I don’t have a price for the right solution, but give it a go – and if dan players would kindly refrain from kibitzing, I’m sure they would see it immediately.


Round 5 results, European Team Championships

So yesterday evening South Africa lost… 1-3 against the UK… I observed all the games, and I was really hopeful for this, but it turned around against South Africa fast. Andrew Davies resigned first, giving SA its first loss; John Leuner scraped a win, which made me hopeful again; then Ben Gale’s resignation made me cry… Victor Guang Chow lost by 0.5, sealing our fate. The sgf files are online here, if you go through them you can see me trying to kibitz a bit, but mostly being lost as to what was happening.

First board – Victor Guang Chow 7d (white) v. Andrew Simons 4d (black)

B+0.5; 6.5. deom [덤; komi]
B+0.5; 6.5. deom [덤; komi]
279 at S7
This game went over my head… at some point (around move 100 or so) someone commented that White was comfortably ahead. But I didn’t see it… Though what was clear to me was that Victor (white) played slow and steady; at some point I thought he fell behind, which most people agreed with. I thought he’d pull of some near pro brilliant move towards the middle of the endgame, but no… He caught up, played a very close endgame but ended up losing by half a point.

Second board – Jon Diamond 3d (white) v. Ben Gale 4d (black)

W+Resign; 6.5 deom [덤; komi]
W+Resign; 6.5 deom [덤; komi]
This game was relatively short in terms of number of moves, but was the second to last to end. Ben (Black) lost due to a simple mistake in byoyomi; he had literally 5 seconds per move at that point, so the pressure must have been immense. If he had played the right place, played 147 at M9 instead of D8, he would have won. Basically, he didn’t have time to count liberties, and didn’t realise he had to connect. So he resigned after he made that mistake, as at that point he would be too far behind.

Third board – Andrew Davies 3d (white) v. Des Cann 3d (black)

B+Resign; 6.5 deom [덤; komi]
B+Resign; 6.5 deom [덤; komi]
This game… well, I was all cheerleadery for the only Capetonian on the team that day… But to no avail… I know Andrew is a very territorial player, but in this game he ended up struggling. Some comments suggested that he played too solidly and too close to his thickness with 30 at B8; instead perhaps a move somewhere else would have been better; I’m not strong enough to assess that, but from then on Black pushed White around the board, Andrew struggled to find life for his group and Black made big territory in that process. Resignation is the result…

Fourth board – Paul Taylor 2d (white) v. John Leuner 3d (black)

B+20.5; 6.5 deom [덤; komi]
B+20.5; 6.5 deom [덤; komi]
189 at R1; 208 at K12; 211 at J12; 214 at K12; 217 at J12; 220 at K12; 223 at J12; 226 at K12; 229 at J12; 232 at K12
This game was the only win for South Africa, though it shouldn’t have been… White was ahead by move 146, as the entire upper left corner had only dead Black stones in it… But the Black’s throw in at R2, robbed White of its only eye at move 187, meaning that suddenly there is a 30+ swing in the game. White kept playing, but ended up losing. In the end they played a ko fight, which I didn’t get… it was beyond insignificant, the game was over… Maybe White just wanted to win at least another battle before losing the war…

European Team Championships 2014/2015 – League C, Round 5

South Africa is playing the United Kingdom today in the European Team Championships; the match will take place at 20:00 CET/CEST on IGS (19.00 WET and 21.00 EET/SAST). Currently United Kingdom is at the top of the League C with 8 points, tied with Bulgaria, and South Africa is third with 7 points; so this will be an interesting match, if South Africa pulls of another win, then we’d be tied with the UK, and Bulgaria will be at the top (unless they lose their match against Spain, but that’s unlikely.) But for this match, South Africa is playing its secret weapon: Victor Guang Chow, the top player in South Africa at 7d; currently the best player on the UK team is ranked at 4d, so this match is far from equal… This is the line up:

  • 1st board: Victor Chow 7d
  • 2nd board: Ben Gale 4d
  • 3rd board: Andrew Davies 3d
  • 4th board: John Leuner 3d

A  3d, and bunch of 2d players are in reserve… And thus, maybe the odds be ever in our frakkin’ favour. The lineup for the UK isn’t listed online yet, but the top players in their team are a 4 dan, 2 3 dans, and 3 2 dans. For a bit of background, our 1st board used to be whatever the Chinese equivalent is of a yeonguseng [연구생; insei], and started playing at 6 years old; I heard he almost made pro before he came to South Africa. Of course, anything can happen, but still I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

[DGS] On stupid mistakes

W+17.5; 6.5 deom [덤, komi]
W+17.5; 6.5 deom [덤, komi]
move 52This is the first game from the DDK division of the Dragon Round-Robin tourney that I’m playing in. We finished this game in a matter of days, and it was an exciting game. My opponent seemed to be ahead by move 52, at least in terms of influence, so I tried to invade and rip the developing diagonal moyang [모양; moyo]; we were both developing those essentially, but his was clearly bigger. Also after he took the upper left corner, I took the lower right one… Or at least I thought I did (this will come and bite me in the lower buttock region soon). I was a bit scared that we’d build a wall in that only open space, and I’ll end up losing by quite a bit. So it was time for some decisive action.

Move 53 to 60
Move 53 to 60

I moved to take the cheonweon [천원; tengen] point, it seemed to be the right balance: not too far in so he can cap it and potentially make it hard to live there, and not too far out so that even a reduction would have some effect on the balance of the game. Also I love taking the centre point, I really do. The sequence up to 60 turned into an invasion; with 59 I defended, in order to not isolate my three stones, and he pushed in with 60.

move 61 to 103
move 61 to 103

So I pushed an invasion after I defended with 61; and overall I succeeded in seriously reducing his potential territory. My aim was, however to kill the stones to the left that were getting squeezed by the Black stones that were already there and my invasion. However, as I tried to find a balance in invading and staying connected, he managed to connect with 98 to 102… Still at this point, I seemed to have a slight edge over my opponent.

But then disaster struck…move 136 After we danced around on the board, moving towards the end game, and I was solidifying my – roughly – 10 – 15 jib [집; moku] lead, he moved to the lower right corner that I had left precariously open earlier. 134 shouldn’t have killed the corner, but I clearly wasn’t thinking, and I made a very basic 130k level reading mistake… I should have played at A instead of playing 135 at O1… His response at Q2 killed the corner; I calculated the that this cost me 22 jib, and thus the game swung around… I actually considered resigning at this point, because so close to the endgame it is hard to catch up that many points; at least for me it is… I ended up playing it out… and the result was W17.5, which shows that one mistake can cost you a game that you pretty much had won already.

[DGS] Rematch, and progress

B+Resign; 6.5 deom [덤;komi]
B+Resign; 6.5 deom [덤;komi]
So I had a rematch with someone who I’ve played about three months ago; back then it was only the 3rd game I finished on DGS. That particular game I had played with a 4 stone handicap as black, and lost by resignation. So, when he joined my even game, I was quite excited to see how much I had caught up to them. Turns out that I definitely caught up the 4 handicap stones in those months; though this isn’t that hard, at the high geup [급; kyu] levels ranks are very volatile. Anyway, my opponent resigned at move 98, when I had a clear advantage in influence in the rest of the board.

Personally, I would have played on; I’m not entirely sure that they had lost this game by this point, the upper side might have more Black influence, but white could definitely pull off at least the 3-3 invasion in the right corner, and also work to create territory by trying to isolate some of the stones; the influence on the top does looks a bit thin. The middle White territory, if he defends at J6 to solidify it, and the side is larger than Black’s in the bottom, despite the dead white stones there. Also the right corner is quite big for White. I think it could have easily been a close game… Actually I would love to play this out with someone, though I’m not sure on how to go about it online… I guess we’d have to play out the sequence of moves up to 98 and then start play… Any takers?

For reference, the game we played three months ago is here. In that game I resigned during the middle game; I still think that there is no way I could have won that game.

Dragon Round-Robin 2015

So I’ve entered the Dragon Round-Robin  2015 Tournament – 19×19 – DDK Division; it consists of several rounds, with the first one seeing the 247 participants divided up in 27 pools. Pool 3, where I ended up, looks as follows:

Name ID Rank
FIRAT ASAR Enigmight 10k (+46%)
a space apollospace 11k (+36%)
Aimé CARON stonerider 12k (-9%)
selbstlaut selbstlaut 13k (-19%)
Adam Brown Hylidae 15k (+9%)
Benjamin Hillier CaptainSumo 16k (-22%)
W. Spencer Clark I DoubleU 18k (-25%)
HeJin Kim yearsago 20k (-5%)
Hanspeter Schmid hanspi 25k (+36%)

As you can see, clearly the odds will be ever in someone else’s favour. I mean, there are 2 stones between me and the next higher ranked person, and 10 between me and the top player in the pool (if only it was a swimming pool). Though I didn’t think I’d have a chance of winning when I entered; I find that tournaments on DGS or OGS are just good ways of getting serious games. Also, the timeframe is often perfect for me, fast paced but still correspondence. The settings for this is Canadian, 1 day main time and 14 days with 14 stones; this is quite fast, a lot more so than the games in the ladder, but in order to get this tourney finished, I guess it makes sense… otherwise it would be the Dragon Round-Robin 2015-until-the-better-part-of-FOREVER. My aim is to just see how high I can get in the pool, only the top player of the pool moves on to the second round, so no chance I’d make that; but we’ll see how it goes.

Reflections on the status quo, and moving into 2015

As my leave is ending, and I am returning to the office today for another year of stress and travel, I am happy to inform you all that, as usual, I barely did any of the things I was planning for my holiday in terms of baduk related study… Nothing out of the ordinary for me, I’m always full of great plans that make me feel good; besides, I live in Cape Town… this place is just not conducive to serious study efforts over the holidays.

But to start of the year, let’s see how I ratings are looking:

Server Rank  Ranked games
Real-life (SAGA) 19k 7 wins | 4 loss
KGS 20k 9 wins | 10 loses
IGS 17k? 5 wins | 6 loses
OGS 20k 11 wins | 8 loses
DGS 20k 19 wins | 23 loses

Overall, I’ve managed to move from 23k to 19k in about 6-7 months of playing, which isn’t all too bad. But I think my major obstacle is two-fold: not enough life and death problems, and not enough games. I played a teaching game with a 3d at the club the other day, and he remarked that my opening is very good, and my early middle game as well; where I lose is in my tendency to run away from fights. In high handicap games that usually works (up to a point), but for the most part I run from fights due to my frequent disasters in reading things out and failing to notice snap backs. In terms of not playing enough, while I play a lot on turn based servers, I think I need to get over my live online game phobia, and bring my IGS and KGS accounts back to life. One dan level member at the local club suggested that I actually play online with the board in front of me, and play – for the opening and first part of the middle game – the moves on the board as they happen online; this would maybe alleviate my tendency to lose focus of when I’m staring at the screen of death (also known as a computer screen).

I would love to make a new years resolution here, but if I do, then I pretty much assure myself of not doing those exact things… I basically need something to motivate me in doing more baduk study, and I’m out of ideas…

On wine, baduk, and a bit of shogi

W+11.5; 9H & 0.5 deom [덤, komi]
W+11.5; 9H & 0.5 deom [덤, komi]
I learned a new lesson, don’t play baduk after going to a series of wine farms and consuming wine under the guise of tasting… Basically, it is a recipe for defeat. I played this game at a Korean restaurant (aptly named “Soju”… for my favourite poison when I lived in Seoul) with 10k Master; the game was the end of a day filled with wine and food. To be honest, I didn’t do half bad; I was a head by around 15-20 jib [집, moku] for most of the middle game, until I made a fatal mistake. If you look at the enclosed space of 10 jib in the middle of the bottom side, that was a capture, after 10k Master skillfully distracted me by playing in one liberty at a time while we were messing about elsewhere. The 9 white stones intruding into my territory ended up there, after my very alive group went suicidal… Or, which is a better way of putting it, I accidentally threw it under the bus… A snap back was set up, and I failed to see it in time… The shift was 29 jib, and suddenly my lead was far gone. As it was at the end of the middle game, there wasn’t much opportunity to make a come back, and I lost by 11.5 jib. The picture here was take after we removed dead stones, I forgot to do it immediately, so it isn’t that accurate a reflection of the end position…

The loss cost me about 600 rating points on the SAGA system, which took away all my advancement from the previous games I had played; I’m still 3 losses or so away from demotion, but it means I have to get a win in the next few games to stay at 19k.

The point of no return (also known as the point where I resigned in utter desperation)
The point of no return (also known as the point where I got checkmated by my traitor of a pawn… it even got promoted to general by the enemy)

Off topic, I did enjoy a try at shogi during the day; one of 10k Master’s friends is a shogi player (probably the only one in South Africa) and is proselytising severely. Shogi is probably the most complex chess variant there is, and has a steep learning curve, steeper than Western chess or janggi [장기, Korean chess]. Basically, every piece can promote, and every piece captured can be dropped back on the board as one of your own… Those two added components make it as alien from Western chess as Stratego, which by the way is probably my second favourite strategy board game. Western chess used to take third place, but I think I love the complexity of shogi, it makes Western chess feel so simple and bland. I might try it out online a bit when I have the time (someday… someday).

A baduk kinda day

On of the Cape Town club members invite people over for a day of pizza and baduk, or go as he calls it, since it has been about two weeks since we had a decent club evening. So five of us converged just outside Cape Town – to me tableview is outside Cape Town – for a few games.

B+35.5; 9H, 0.5 dum [덤; komi]
B+35.5; 9H, 0.5 dum [덤; komi]
I played this game against a 10k, and won; it’s been a few weeks since I played over the board and it was great holding actual stones in my hand, rather than clicking on a screen. The game started fairly usual, with a 9 stone handicap to even out the game, and 0.5 dum [덤; komi]. We got into a fight in the lower area, and I nearly succeeded in killing his two groups until I made a tragic mistake, with him getting a snapback; instead of playing, I defended, and sacrificed four stones, rather than 5. But if you look at the lonely throw-in on the bottom of the board, well, basically all the white stones around it were dead the moment I made that throw-in. However, when he managed to capture the four stones (the four empty spaces up and to the right, shaped like that one idiotic tetris stone) it rose from the dead like a very much alive zombie. It was a mistake, because I could have easily saved them, I just didn’t think things through… In the end I still won the game, and got 500 points on the SAGA rating system; not enough for a promotion, but one more win will do that.

Afterwards I played a game against a 2d, and on the board I lost… naturally… severely… I don’t have a shot of the last position, but took a photo of the count. He won by over 80 points, though considering the rank difference it isn’t that bad a loss actually. Or at least, I keep telling myself that. Though if you calculate a reverse dum based on rank difference, it would be about 109.5 points, and then the difference in my favour would be similar to the earlier game. In part perhaps this is an indication of the amount of stones I’m under-ranked right now on the system, though that should correct itself in a few more games.

W+a whole lot...
W+a whole lot…

Read it again

I do this a lot… play on autopilot and lo and behold! Half my stones get captured… the “read it again” advice is probably the biggest advice there is for a beginner…

Finding the Wrong Moves

Triple check your moves before making them. I know, you’ve already read it all out several times and are quite certain. Well… you may have done so, but you might lose a match based on a incorrect reflex move.

Spending less than two seconds on the move because you had planned it, and you may find you have selected something similar but COMPLETELY different from what you had intended. Do it. Read it again. The life you save may be that of your single most important group on the board.


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In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man still has only one eye…

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